Cetius Mons: Roman Military Presence in the Vienna Woods

The study »Cetius Mons«, which is sponsored by the City of Vienna (Municipal Department 7 – Cultural Department), investigates traces of the Roman presence in the Vienna Woods. Starting with a fortified site in the region of the municipality of Hinterbrühl, which based on current knowledge is to be understood as a small fort from the period of the principate, questions regarding usage and securing of resources, trade routes and military-strategic concepts will be examined.

The Vienna Woods and the Imperium Romanum

At the latest with the construction of the legionary camp of Vindobona/Vienna at the end of the 1st cent. A.D. and the municipalisation of Cetium/St. Pölten in the Hadrianic period, the Vienna Woods (Latin Cetius Mons), bordered by the Danube to the north, the Triesting to the south, the Tullnerfeld to the west and the Wiener Becken to the east, came increasingly into the focus of Roman interests. The hilly and today thickly wooded region was not only relevant for the obtaining of raw materials (water, stone, wood [?]) and as a trading route, but it also constituted the border between the provinces of Noricum and Pannonia. Traces of Roman military presence are evident with the auxiliary forts of Zeiselmauer and Klosterneuburg as well as the probable watchtowers at Greifenstein, Maria Gugging and Heiligenstadt. A fortified site, previously unknown, in the municipality of Hinterbrühl (Weißenbach near Mödling) allows new information to be expected concerning the Roman military and trading history of the Vienna region.

Fortification at Weißenbach

LiDAR analyses revealed the groundplan of the 60 × 55 m (0.3 ha) large fortification at Weißenbach, situated on a hill elevated more than 150 m from the valley cut of Hinterbrühl–Sparbach. The rounded corners of the orthogonally running fortification walls and a probable double gate construction make an interpretation as a Roman small fort likely. Small forts could have a variety of functions: in addition to the stationing of a numerus unit for the supervision of the removal of raw materials, or for duties relating to surveillance and signal transmission, an interpretation as a station for beneficiarii (privileged soldiers) is also possible.

Project Aims and Methods

The overriding goal of the project is the clarification of the precise structure, chronology and function of the fortification at Weißenbach. To this end, initially, detailed LiDAR evaluations should enable further conclusions regarding the groundplan and the immediate vicinity of the site. A high-resolution topographical site recording, following on the LiDAR analysis, aims to consolidate the information. Based on these data, small-scale excavations, susceptibility surveys, drill core soundings and systematic metal probe surveys are planned. The processing of the evidence and finds should ultimately provide certainty regarding the questions and issues raised at the outset.

Ein weiteres Ziel ist die Zusammenfassung römischer Befunde und Funde im Projektgebiet. Die aus dem ViennaGIS und dem BDA-Fundstellen-Archiv zu generierenden Kataloge und Kartierungen sind mit Geodaten wie Geländemodellen, Rohstoffkarten sowie historischen Fluss- und Straßenverläufen zu verknüpfen. Darauffolgende GIS-Analysen erlauben die Erstellung von Modellen, die das Verständnis römischer Ressourcennutzungskonzepte, Handelsrouten und Militärstrategien im Wienerwald ermöglichen sollen.